Eating disorder recovery
Eating disorder recovery may seem like a daunting and never-ending process, particularly because food is such a fundamental part of everyday life. Recovery from an eating disorder can take many different forms and may look completely different depending on the individual, their life-stage, family and various other interconnecting factors. Recovery from an eating disorder is always possible, regardless of how long a person has suffered. However studies show that the earlier treatment is accessed, the quicker recovery is achieved. When beginning the process of eating disorder recovery, it's important to remember that often the progression is not linear and sometimes you may fall in and out of harmful behaviours/thoughts. It's also possible to improve more rapidly in some areas i.e eating frequent meals but take longer in others i.e improving self-esteem or body image. The main focus should always remain on maintaining faith and working closely with your treatment team to prioritise behaviours that put you on the path to eating disorder recovery.
what are the benefits to eating disorder recovery?
No longer living with feelings of fear, anxiety, self-loathing, isolation...etc
No longer being dictated by the thoughts/voice of the eating disorder
Feeling more confident, safe and secure in your own mind
Having the energy to focus on other things you care about, or used to care about
No longer feeling controlled by food, the availability of food or calories in food
Rebuilding your personality, values & sense of self
Stable vital signs like heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol levels
Reduced propensity to suffer from Osteoporosis
Energy to invest in activities you want to do
Reduced fatigue, bloating and dizziness
Better sleep quality
Better gastrointestinal health
Stable body weight
Better hair, skin and nails
Energy to exercise and recover adequately
Feeling physical comfortable
Reconnecting with friends and family
Engaging in hobbies and extra curricular activities you stopped doing
Participating in social gatherings
Attending public events
Having the confidence to go shopping with friends or family
Forming new relationships (personal and professional)
Feeling secure and adequate around others
Feeling worthy and deserving of others attention and affection
Feeling calm in intimate relationships
understanding the stages of eating disorder recovery
Eating Disorder recovery usually involves improving or eliminating various behaviours through the support and guidance of a treatment team who help manage your psychological, physical and social wellbeing. Some individuals may also choose to follow self-help programs or join therapy groups, as well as work on interpersonal relationships that potentially influence their eating behaviours. To understand the stages of eating disorder recovery, it's helpful to explore The Stages of Change model defined by Prochaska and DiClemente. Individuals recovering from an eating disorder may go through this cycle multiple times, and at different phases of recovery, as well as for each symptom of their eating disorder. This is explained in more details below:
"I don't have a problem"
The Pre-Contemplation Stage is evident when a person does not believe they have a problem. Friends and loved ones tend to pick up on symptoms such as restrictive eating, the binge/purge cycle, or a preoccupation with weight, shape, and appearance, despite the sufferer not admitting it. The individual may refuse to discuss the topic and deny they need help. At this stage, we recommend seeking the advice of a GP or The Wellness Workshop, who can provide you with tips on how to navigate the situation effectively and not cause further detriment to the sufferer's health. You can also find out more about signs and symptoms by clicking here.
"I have a problem and need help"
The Contemplation Stage occurs when an individual is willing to admit that they have a problem and are open to receiving help. The fear of change may be very strong, and it's during this phase that a professional like a Psychologist, Therapist or Wellness Coach can assist the individual in discovering why they developed the eating disorder and what purpose it has served in their life. A visit to your local GP is recommended at this point to gain a diagnosis, develop a treatment plan and move forward towards the next step of receiving treatment. The Wellness Workshop can provide you with a list of recommended Practitioners and delivery therapy services both in-house and online for you.
"What treatment is right for me?"
An individual transitions into the Preparation Stage when they are ready to change, but uncertain on how to go about it. The Wellness Workshop's Wellness Coach can assist you in developing specific coping mechanisms that assist you in effectively dealing with negative eating disorder thoughts and emotions, while our Dietitian can provide nutritional therapy to begin the process of normalising food and eating behaviours. It's also recommended the sufferer identify potential barriers to change and implement their treatment plan as created by their GP. Sitting down with family members and close friends to explain the next steps forward and how they can support your recovery is suggested.
"I'm taking the steps I need to"
Once an individual is ready to implement their plan and confront the eating disorder, the action stage begins. Generally this will mean attending appointments, exploring new ideas and behaviours, facing fears and even reading and adopting self-help approaches. They may also attend therapy groups and seek support from loved ones. Trust between the individual and the treatment team is imperative here, particularly when facing challenges or barriers to change. The action phase is also a good time to remove triggers from the sufferer's environment like diet foods and diet pills, scales, harmful social media accounts, diet books or anything else that may hinder the recovery effot
"I'm consistently practicing the steps"
The maintenance stage occurs when the individual has sustained the action stage for around six months or longer. During this time, the sufferer continues to practice recommended behaviours, new ways of processing their thoughts and implementing learnt coping mechanisms. They may also need to regularly expose themselves to potential triggers i.e eating out with friends at a take-away restaurant in order to prevent relapse and acclimatise themselves to their new lifestyle. This can be a particularly difficult stage of eating disorder recovery as external stresses may increase the risk of relapse. Having a relapse prevention plan is place is recommended.
what books may help me with eating disorder recovery?
The below is a list of books that The Wellness Workshop Practitioners have read, recommend and some cases we stock in our store. Click the links to purchase a copy of a book, otherwise get in touch with us using the contact form at the end of this page for further recommendations on which books may be most suitable for you at your stage of eating disorder recovery.
by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch
Learn the 10 principles of intuitive eating and free yourself from dieting forever. Reconnect with the pleasure of eating and develop a healthy relationship with your mind, body and food.
the intuitive eating workbook
by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch
An evidence-based program to be used in conjunction with the Intuitive Eating book, ideally with the guidance and support of a qualified professional like The Wellness Workshop's Intuitive Eating Coach or Dietitian.
brain over binge
by Kathryn Hansen
An engaging read about one woman's journey through binge eating, purging and self-discovery, and how she managed to overcome her condition adopting an unconventional approach.
the little book of big change
by Amy Johnson
Psychologist Amy Johnson illustrates how to rewire your brain and overcome harmful habits that are affecting your health. Useful for sufferers of binge eating.
health at every size
by Linda Bacon
Explores the myth that 'fat is the problem' and offers the alternative that dieting is in fact the problem. Teaches you how to tune into your body's natural cues and nurture yourself from the inside out.
if not dieting, then what?
by Dr Rick Kausman
Teaches you how to eat, move and live outside of dieting while taking care of yourself and creating a life worth living that is filled with the little pleasures. Also explores mindful eating.
just eat it
by Laura Thomas
Teaches women how to get 'their shit together' around food by freeing them from restrictive dieting, disordered eating and punishing exercise. Promotes self-love and the development of a more trusting relationship with food and your body.
by Sofie Hagen
Written by comedian and fat activist, Sofie Hagen begins a journey of self-exploration into conquering the negative relationship she has with her body. Filled with uplifting tips and stories to redefine current beauty standards and your self-worth.
love your body
by Jessica Sanders
A beautifully illustrated picture book that encourages young girls to admire and celebrate their bodies for all the amazing things they can do, and help girls see that they are so much more than just their physical bodies.
body positive power
by Megan Crabbe
Challenges modern opinions that our bodies are the problem and happiness is only reached when you hit your goal weight. Illustrates the author's battle with anorexia from the age of five and how she finally recovered from years of dieting and binge-eating.
the beauty myth
by Naomi Wolf
Best selling classic originally written in 1992 that redefines women's views of the relationship between beauty and female identity. Explores the obsession with physical perfection that traps modern women in an endless spiral of hope and self-hatred.
by Linda Bacon & Lucy Aphramor
Talks about the rampant nature of body insecurity and how we as people tend to judge the accomplishment or success of others based on their weight and appearance. Offers an unconventional approach to respecting and celebrating bodies of all size.
what's the first step in eating disorder recovery?
To find out more about eating disorder recovery and take the first step in getting treatment for eating disorders, visit our Eating Disorder Treatment page on our website. Here you will find information on how to begin the process of recovery for both yourself, or a loved one you feel may have an eating disorder. Alternatively, you can also contact our Practice Manager for more specific advice and recommendations on which treatment path to take. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0412 370 476.